States can up sand mining cap from 5 to 20 hectares

States can up sand mining cap from 5 to 20 hectares

In a move to expedite construction projects in the country by making raw material more procurable, the Centre has decided to permit state governments to increase sand mining area in dry river beds from the existing five hectares to 20 hectares.

An inter-ministerial panel, constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and headed by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, decided to relax the existing norm to address sand shortage after requests from states.

Presently, sand mining proposals beyond five hectares are referred to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for clearances, hampering the completion of infrastructure projects.

The states had complained that it was laborious to send files to the Centre and the process created hurdles for construction work due to delay in acquiring approvals. There were also complaints that due to non-availability of sand, several projects got stuck and led to the escalation of construction costs.

The panel proposed to empower states and regional offices of the MoEF to clear highway projects spread across forest areas of up to 40 hectares. An official who attended the meeting told Deccan Herald that such projects inevitably got delayed, since norms warrant a clearance from the Centre.

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